I'm first in, most days, and the moment I open the door I can't help but use both senses of smell and hearing, as well as sight, to check out and understand what's happened in my absence. The smell of the place changes depending on what, and how, we're brewing and pretty often, for instance, the aroma of fresh yeast gives away the fermenting of something big. This morning was a bit different: an unusual hoppiness pervaded the old place, subtly distinct from the daily hop-store greeting.
Last night I made a giant hop-bag out of muslin and stuffed it with Humphrey's East Kent Goldings - 2009 crop; fresh and aromatic - steeping it in the hot liquor tank for a few hours before brewing our annual pale ale (dedicated to Humphrey and his mates on Brooke Farm, who made it all possible, indeed, who make most of our ale possible). In an effort to extract all possible flavours, from what looks like the best season for a few years, I'm ramming as many hops in as many vessels as possible on this brew and it's going to get very messy.
I usually draw a jug of brewing liquor for morning tea but elected for fresh filtered water this morning - I don't think even my buds could deal with tannin from both tea and hops at the same time.